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Abstract

Previous laboratory experiments, using quite complex resource simulators, suggest that renewable resources are over-utilised because of a general tendency for people to systematically misperceive the dynamics of bioeconomic systems. Here, similar experiments with simplified simulators involving the management of reindeer rangelands are carried out. Sufficient information is given for the subjects to construct perfect mental models. Misperceptions persist for a simulator containing only the basic building block of all dynamic systems: one stock and two flows. Results deteriorate in a second treatment where a two-stock model is used. Compared to earlier studies using questionnaires, where subjects do not benefit from repeated outcome feedback, the experiments show that, even in these simple systems, information feedback is not sufficient to make up for misperceptions. Simulations are used to test two hypothesised decision rules: the optimal policy is rejected; a simple feedback rule is not. Altogether, the experiment and the simulations provide both a motivation for and an introduction to studies of system dynamics. Copyright © 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.